Three generations grew tobacco and grain at Vollmer Farm in Bunn. But as the North Carolina tobacco industry waned in the 1990s, the future seemed uncertain. Searching for a way to keep the farm productive and profitable, John Vollmer looked into organic farming. With assistance from scientists at North Carolina State University, John began the transition from tobacco to organic strawberries. He remembers that period of change as challenging, but ultimately very rewarding. “They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s not true,” he said, laughing, when we interviewed him in 2008.
Now Vollmer Farm has certified organic pick-your-own strawberry fields (the first in the state). Buoyed by the success of the strawberries, the Vollmers diversified into other organic crops, including pumpkins, lettuce, and blueberries. They also opened an on-site ice cream shop and a farm playground with a hay pyramid, a giant underground slide, the “pumpkin jump,” and much more. They show movies on Saturday nights against the barn wall.
Each April, the Vollmers supply Weaver Street Market with the finest organic berries on the market. We also routinely carry their greenhouse tomatoes, summer squash, and blueberries. John told us, “I don’t focus on yield as a benchmark for growth. My goal is [to] focus on flavor, aroma, and beauty.”
Organic agriculture has breathed new life into this family farm, and John expressed hope that future generations of Vollmers would follow in his footsteps. When he passed away, his son Russ took over, continuing the Vollmer tradition of growing organic produce while forming connections with the public. Read about our 2015 visit on our blog.
Visit Vollmer Farm online at http://www.vollmerfarm.com/. Watch a video of our visit, below.